The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair” - Douglas Adams

A risk is an uncertain event that, should it occur, will have an effect on the achievement of the project’s objectives. The purpose of the Risk theme is to identify, assess and control uncertainty and, as a result, improve the ability of the project to succeed.

Many solely pay attention to the uncertainties with negative consequences, but there are two main types of risks, and both should get the needed attention:

  • Threat – an uncertain event that could have a negative impact on objectives.
  • Opportunity – and uncertainty that could have a favorable impact on objectives.   

The PRINCE2 risk management procedure is comprising the following five steps:
  • Identify
  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Implement
  • Communicate


Risks can be identified using a number of techniques like review lessons, risk checklists, risk prompt lists, brainstorming and risk breakdown structures. An effective way of identifying risks is to use a risk workshop. A useful way of expressing risk is to consider the following aspects of each risk:

  • Risk cause – the source of the risk.
  • Risk event – the “trigger”
  • Risk effect – a description of the impact should the risk materialize.


When assessing a risk you are trying to understand the probability and impact. The risk proximity will also be of interest.


The goal of the plan step is to prepare specific management responses to the risks. The responses can be categorized:

Threat responses
Opportunity responses
(probability and/or impact)

(reduce impact only, and often only the financial impact)
Prepare contingent plans


You need to ensure that planned responses are acted on. Each risk should have a risk owner and a risk actionee.


Risks are communicated continually using various management products like checkpoint reports, highlight reports, stage reports, lessons reports and end project reports.

PRINCE2 Risk is one of the seven PRINCE2 Themes

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